Published on April 6, 2012 by Amy
Seminole, Native American tribe of the Muskogean language family and of the Southeast culture area.
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Most now live in Oklahoma and southern Florida.
The Seminole tribe developed in the 18th century from members of the Creek Confederacy, mostly Creeks and Hitchiti, who raided and eventually settled in Florida, which was then Spanish territory. Joined by other refugee Native Americans and escaped black slaves, they were cut off from the Creek Confederacy when the United States-Florida border was settled.
Most spoke Muskogee, or Creek; those speaking Hitchiti, a related Muskogean language, are known as the Hitchiti-Mikasuki Seminole (see Native American Languages).
After the United States acquired Florida in 1819, the territorial governor (and later U.S. president), Andrew Jackson, initiated a vigorous policy of tribal removal to open the land for white settlers. Seminole resistance was fierce, and the Seminole wars were among the most costly of the U.S. Indian wars.
After the capture of their leader Osceola in 1837 and the end of the Second Seminole War in 1842, several thousand Seminole were forcibly moved west to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).
At the end of the Third Seminole War in 1858, about 250 more were sent west. The rest were allowed to remain, and their descendants signed a peace treaty with the United States in 1935.
In 1964 the Miccosukee signed a 50-year agreement with the National Park Service that allows the Miccosukee access to more than 300 acres of the Everglades.
The Florida Seminole have five reservations. They farm, hunt, and fish, and some run tourist-related businesses. Many still live in thatch-roofed, open-sided houses on stilts (chickees) and wear patchwork and appliqué clothing.
The Seminole in Oklahoma were given a smaller reservation after the American Civil War. In the late 19th century they yielded to pressure to divide their tribal land into individual allotments and cede the surplus to the United States; this land was opened to settlers in 1889.
In 1990 Seminole descendants numbered 13,797. Many were Baptists, but both the Florida and Oklahoma groups retained traditional Muskogean observances.